Editor’s Note: This story first appeared online on Business Insider. We reprint in part here.
The spectacular escape of the world’s most notorious drug trafficker — Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as El Chapo — from a Mexican high-security prison is a massive embarrassment for the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto.
But that is not the most important issue here. Nor is it that it’s a reminder of the deep structural deficiencies of Mexico’s law enforcement and rule-of-law system. Nor is it that the escape is likely to increase tensions in the US-Mexico security relationship.
It is a reminder that even on the U.S. border, the influence of subnational actors such as transnational criminal organizations remains a persistent challenge for governments.
In fact, the most important issue is whether the Mexican government will seize this embarrassing crisis and start seriously focusing on crime, public safety, and the rule of law. Instead, the Peña Nieto administration could spend its remaining three years in office continuing to shove security issues under the rug and merely minimize damage after crises occur, while its security policy is in a morass.